Please, Bob. Heed Ambassador Christopher Stevens's mother. Do not feed the inane political fires by making Benghazi a larger matter than it is.
In the Kerry-Bush 2004 debates, there were no questions about 9/11, the worst tragedy and worst terrorist attack in our nation's history, and for which there was major ignored advance warning. There was no Congressional investigation -- ever. The 9/11 Commission did not begin meeting until more than a year after the disaster, and then only as a very reluctant concession in November 2002 (note, after the mid-term elections!) to political pressure from the victims' families.
Hopefully, therefore, Bob Schieffer will resist the temptation to plunge into the Benghazi tragedy at the outset. The tragedy occurred; the controversy is created by the Romney campaign. Other than its timing -- in the midst of election season -- Benghazi is neither the most important, nor a symptom of the most important, foreign policy matters that need to be discussed in front of the American people.
How we ousted Gaddafi -- the coalition, allowing Americans to leave before launching, acting in a supportive role... those are important issues, and will lead to critical differences between Obama and Romney. Go for it.
So, Bob, be our granddaddy. Provide the guiding hand of your years and wisdom so the truly critical matters can be discussed. We need it.
Because, contrary to Jason Linkins' claims, there are enormous differences between Obama's foreign policies, and how he conducts it, and what Romney would do. Neither candidate would disagree with that proposition.
The American people need those differences fully aired. War and peace, defense spending, Israel, Syria, global finances, tax havens, climate and the respect with which the United States is held in the world, are at stake -- you know, little things like that.
The differences between a Romney and an Obama foreign policy are as great as those on domestic policy, with at least as great an implication for our future, and certainly a greater one for the world's.
Have we forgotten that Iran is the unfinished agenda of the neoconistas, aka, the chickenhawks, of which Romney is one? Have we lost our maps that show the Straits of Hormuz, where mid-east oil is transported, are very narrow? "Creating" an incident there is very easy. Would the neocons do something like that? Do you really need me to fill in the blanks?
Does anyone really believe that the neocons are not dusting off their plans and maps that they had to discard when "Mission Accomplished" was shown to be as big a lie as the reason we invaded Iraq in the first place?
Romney, like Bush before him, has zero knowledge or experience in foreign policy. Neither of them volunteered for the war of their generation. Each of them is an effete "son of", born into great wealth and privilege. Each has a psychological need to prove their "macho" -- that they will do by sending other peoples' children to fight a war they drum up. How did the last "son of" war turn out?
Are our collective memories so short that we forget what happened after 9/11? That the neoconistas immediately thought this was the excuse they needed to invade and occupy Iraq. When John Kerry debated George Bush, nearly two-thirds of the American people believed that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11 -- how, pray tell, did they come to such a conclusion?
That is why Bob Schieffer's first question should be: "Governor, if you become President and you decide to take the country to war, can you do that without your own sons volunteering to fight just as Lyndon Johnson's sons-in-law did during Vietnam?" Let us hear the candidates talk about war and peace.
Here's the second question: "Mr President, the CEO of ExxonMobil has said that, without Wall Street speculators, the cost of oil should be about $60 one-third less than it is today. Why haven't you reigned in Wall Street speculators, so that gasoline prices would be closer to $3 and Iran would not be getting a $66 million per day 'bonus' from these speculators?"
Then, Bob, there is the military build-up Romney proposes. Do we need it? Can we afford it? What should our global defense strategy be? Do we need to be able to fight two major wars simultaneously? Bush and Obama former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that any future defense secretary who recommended another land war in the middle-east ought to have his head examined. Does Obama agree? Does Romney agree?
What about Israel? Should the U.S. never take a different position than the Israeli government on anything, say, on settlements? Should the U.S. follow Romney's secret suggestion that the Israel-Palestine matter just be allowed to drift, with no active U.S. role to pursue peace?
What about Syria? What about how we supported the overthrow of Gaddafi without losing a single soldier?
Or, Bob, what about foreign tax havens? The U.S. loses $1 Trillion per decade to these hideaways for the wealthy. To close them, the U.S. has to cooperate with other countries. Should we? Or, should we forego it and take that money out of the hide of Medicare recipients? Bill Clinton was on the verge of an international agreement to close foreign tax havens. One of George W Bush's first acts was to scuttle that agreement. That's $1 Trillion without raising tax rates, just collecting those that should be paid. Hear that Medicare recipients?
Or, what about climate change? Instead of asking Romney whether he believes in man's contribution to global warming, ask him this, "suppose you were president, and during your term a definitive study shows that man's contribution to warming is significant, what would you do?" Since Obama already accepts science, ask him what he plans to do about climate change in a second term.
Benghazi was a tragedy. We lost four great Americans. We should mourn them, and we should have provided them the dignity to mourn them before Romney tried to use it for political advantage. We should investigate whether there were steps that could have, and should have, been taken to prevent it. We should determine whether information was appropriate channeled and appropriated flagged for its importance. Whatever was wrong should be corrected.
The President has taken responsibility, and the reports strongly suggest that the Administration reported what it knew, as it knew it at the time. He launched an immediate investigation. 9/11 -- a much larger and much more profound tragedy, on our own soil--was not investigated for more than one year. And, to this day, unless I have been napping, neither Bush nor Cheney nor Condi Rice has accepted any responsibility for it. Should we find out if Romney considers them responsible for 9/11? That might be interesting.
What did the president say, and what paragraph he said it in, and what nuances to put on them seem rather picayune. He referred to it as "an act of terror" the next day. His UN Ambassador, Susan Rice, communicated accurately from the cables at the time that it looked like it had been stirred by the offensive video, but that the assessment might change. It did not look like a planned attack based upon the behavior of the attackers. Now it appears as if it were a planned attack, at least by some, but that the attackers had used the occasion of the offensive video to do it.
For the purposes of determining which man, Obama or Romney, we want to lead our foreign policy for the next four years, what difference does all this make?
Sure, let the candidates talk about Benghazi. But, not for an extended period, allowing it to diminish the larger, much more important differences between the candidates on foreign policy.
Our "lives, our fortunes, our sacred honor" depend on it.